A Few Short Reviews – Pharaohs, Expanse, Unlocked and Murderbot!

Unlocked
This espionage/thriller was spoiled by really weak writing. Director Michael Apted is a seasoned professional, and the performances here are all solid, but the bedrock just isn’t solid. This has a conspiracy plot that does not bear any level of scrutiny. With some movies, it’s fine to “turn off your brain” (I’m looking at you, Commando), but conspiracy thrillers should expect that audiences will be expecting it to hold together when the truth is finally revealed. In this case, there were very, very few surprises (any? . . . maybe one) and the conspiracy itself was riddled with problems. Basically, it was an idiot plot – it only works if everyone involved is an idiot.

The Black Pharaohs by Robert G. Morkot
This is a seminal work and kind of cornerstone read if one is looking at Kush/Nubia. I would strongly recommend it to anyone researching that period and place. Having said that, it seemed a bit disjointed, in that there seemed to be a lot of diversions and an assumption of knowledge that could leave me confused. I read this book over a very long period, in between academic courses, and that may have affected how I perceived it.

Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey
I’m a huge fan of this book and TV series, but after mainlining the books from Leviathan Wakes to Babylon’s Ashes, I’m taking a break. I still think the books are fantastic, but I do feel that Nemesis Games and Babylon’s Ashes lacked the punch of earlier books. I don’t want the series to end because I love these characters, but by the same token I would be okay if I found out the next book were the last (it’s not, Tiamet’s Wrath is supposed to be coming in March 2019). I will impatiently devour Persepolis Rising when I get to it, but I think I needed a palate cleanser.

And I have only just started it . . . but

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
I just finished chapter five of this science-fiction novel and I adore it. It’s narrated first person by the extremely flawed “Murderbot” – a Security Unit built of tech and organic pieces (cloned?). Murderbot has hacked its own governor unit so it has free will and a whole host of personality quirks that make reading its narration an exquisite pleasure for me. The story is also gripping and the writing is both technically excellent and really engaging. This is the kind of book that make one almost miss one’s bus stop (may have happened). Can’t wait to get back to it.

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